Brandon Gibson said he was tripped up, and almost was knocked off the track.
But the Columbian distance runner kept his balance, stayed in the race, and beat all but one of his opponents.
Gibson was the second runner to cross the finish line in the 1,600, running in 4:31.01.
Columbian’s Brandon Gibson (right) races Norwalk’s Caleb?Foos in the 1,600 at the NOL?Championships Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
"When I finished the race," Gibson said, "I was dead. I was tired."
And, though he didn't know it at the time, he was a champion.
It was ruled that Norwalk's Caden Foos - who finished first - interfered with Gibson during the race and was disqualified.
Because of that, Gibson was awarded first, the only Tornado to win a title Saturday as Columbian finished fourth at the Northern Ohio League Championships at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
Columbian Marcia Focht said Gibson has had to battle this season.
"He's been injured, and he's really fighting back on his injury," Focht said. "We're just really proud of him to be able to be here today. He was gonna run the (800) for us too, but we just felt that he'd had enough, and we really wanted to do well at districts."
Norwalk ended up winning the meet, outdistancing Sandusky 143-114 1/2. Ontario finished third with 109 1/2 points, while Shelby took fifth with 74 1/2 points.
Bellevue took sixth (68), while Willard rounded out the teams with 58 1/2 points.
TC got an all-around strong performance from Donovan Walker. The senior finished second in the 100 in 11.54. He also finished fifth in the 200 and was part of the team's 4x100 and 4x200 teams, which took fourth and third place, respectively.
"Donovan Walker had a really nice day for us," Focht said. "He ran the (100), the (200), the 4x2 and the 4x4, and just had PRs all over the place and did a really super job for us. He's team captain, and he led for us today, along with Chris Gates."
Gates finished third in the 1,600 (4:38.04) and the 3,200 (10:03.7).
Bellevue got three second-place finishes. Brandon Tobin finished second in the 300 hurdles, running in 51.47. Kyle Norman ran the 400 in 40.81, and the 4x100 squad of Alec Haynes, Seth Linder, Dylan Fultz and Maurice Barnhouse crossed the line in 44.99.